EVs and Additive Manufacturing

images-1 In September 2014 Strati, an EV with a 3D printed body was printed in 44 hours, then assembled and tested in 3 days. The Strati was the winning design of a competition hosted by Local Motors, and was collaboratively manufactured with Oak Ridge National Labs and Cincinnati Incorporated. Strati is the first car to have its chassis and body printed in one solid piece. Local Motors’ Strati – 3d Printed EV body In the link above Business Insider did interviews with Local Motors, and Cincinnati Incorporated on the design and manufacturing of the Strati.  The video discusses how 3D printing (additive manufacturing) creates a more streamlined design process because it allows for rapid prototyping. This means that prototypes can be fabricated quickly because there doesn’t need to be specific tooling for each new design. The video also discusses why additive manufacturing is far from replacing traditional auto manufacturing. Although Ford has been using the technology for over 25 years, additive manufacturing is unlikely to be implemented in the construction of combustion engine cars anytime soon. This is because they traditional cars have many more parts and much more complex requirements than EVs do. Since EVs have fewer parts, they have more potential to be manufactured in experimental ways.


Here the is the Strati in a very early stage of printing.


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Rather than using a more common filament extruder, they used an extruder that took pellets. This allowed for quicker and cheaper material testing, because they could essentially create their own filaments.

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Ultimately the car was printed with a blend of ABS and carbon fiber pellets.


Here is an example of a pellet extruder head for a 3d printer.



Here the Strati is nearly done printing, you can see the infill of the print in the areas that are still exposed. The infill is a grid pattern printed layer by layer on the inside of the perimeter, this allows the car to be neither hollow or solid.


Here excess material is being milled off to refine the finished print.


Detail of the custom fittings for the headlights in the car body.


Detail of the distinct 3d print texture.